All You Need to Know About How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Posted on: 11th April 2020

Words can illustrate an image worth a fortune. Just like the likes of J. K. Rowling and Stephen King, you can breathe life into your descriptive essay by mastering the art of descriptive writing.

Here's an example of vivid description.

It was at this place where I first fell in love with life. The fine sand glittered in the golden sunlight, and I could hear the ravening seagulls flapping their wings against the ambush of the wind. 

A descriptive essay is your entryway into the realm of immersive writing. Whether it's for prose learning or copywriting, understanding how to write a descriptive essay will propel your storytelling ability to new heights. In the meantime, our brilliant team of writers can help you craft a high-quality descriptive essay as you practice.

In this article, we explore the various facets of writing a descriptive essay and offer a comprehensive guideline. We've also provided some descriptive essay examples for better illustration.

What Is a Descriptive Essay?

You can refer to a descriptive essay definition as a type of composition that requires someone to describe something. It could be an item, a place, a person, a process, or an emotion, among other things. In general, it's a genre that appeals to your ability to provide a written account of a given experience.

When writing a descriptive essay, your primary goal is to give the reader a vivid account of your subject. Your other objective is to captivate the reader by showing, instead of telling, through adding sufficient detail. To that end, such a composition usually allows significant room for artistic freedom.

With that said, the key to writing a good descriptive essay is appealing to the five senses, i.e., sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. For instance;

Dianne's glass of wine fell and shattered into tiny fragments, capturing the attention of everyone at the restaurant.

Lastly, your essay must have a purpose; it could be anything from a valuable lesson learned, to a story of how something impacted your life.

You can use either of these two classic approaches for your narrative.

Personal Essay

This style shares a lot in common with a narrative essay, as it recounts an encounter from the writer's viewpoints and reactions. While this approach may be captivating to an empathetic audience, it can also be quite vague and disorderly. As such, you must solely concentrate on relaying the side of the story that best conveys your experience. What's more, using vivid, evocative language can enhance the delivery of your personal essay.

Formal Description

This method is like writing an argumentative essay, as its primary goal is to relay various main points. However, instead of articulating an argument, a formal description describes a subject in detail, following a particular structure. Additionally, a formal description leverages specific types of info to convey the full picture.

Unfortunately, this style may seem tedious, especially to readers who are more interested in the writer's response, as opposed to the subject. Either way, it's the delivery that matters the most.

How to Write a Descriptive Essay in Three Steps?

At Custom Writing Bee, we advocate for the organization of ideas as a vital component of excellent writing, regardless of the genre. The following are some proven tips for crafting well-written academic descriptive essays, categorized into three easy steps.

Step One: Brainstorming Ideas

Before you can begin writing your essay, you must take the time to think about your subject of description and why you would like to discuss it.

Pick a Topic

Do you want to describe someone influential, or a significant experience in your life? Other topics you can discuss in a descriptive essay include:

  • People
  • Places
  • Animals
  • Events
  • Memories
  • Experiences
  • Behavior
  • Occupation

If you are still wondering what to describe in your article, you can check out the segment below for descriptive essay topics and ideas.

Outline the Sensory Details

Once you've decided on your topic, you should ponder upon the various qualities on which you'd like to focus. You can make this easier by noting the sensory details about your subject. For instance, if you choose your mother as the subject, you can add, 'soft voice during the night,' or 'clanging utensils when she cooks,' under sound.

Step Two: Drafting the Essay

Now that you've established what you want to write about and have listed the crucial sensual details, it's time for you to begin writing your story. This section is the most important and involves most of the heavy lifting.

Create an Essay Outline

The best way to organize your thoughts when doing any kind of writing is to follow an outline. Your essay outline can be categorized into three parts, namely, introduction, body, and conclusion. Usually, such an essay should have five paragraphs - one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and the conclusion.

Alternatively, you can divide your work into sections, allowing the body to include as many paragraphs as you'd like. You'll find some more tips on how to write a descriptive essay outline in the subsequent segments.

Develop a Thesis Statement

As a rule of thumb, always ensure that all of your academic papers feature a thesis statement. A thesis statement represents the essay's central theme. What's more, it declares the purpose of the article and serves as the guiding idea when writing the essay.

Mostly, it is usually the concluding statement of the introduction and should be stated again in your conclusion.

Let's say you were writing about your mother. Your thesis statement may look something like this.

In numerous ways, our mother is a fierce queen and the emblem of success in our house, full of principles that none of us dare to defy. 

Craft a Compelling Introduction

Have you been wondering how to start a descriptive essay? You're not alone.

The introduction paragraph to your narrative should set the background and acquaint your audience with your subject. What's more, your introduction should capture the reader's attention and entice him to read more. As a result, your opening paragraph should have a gripping opening line, aka hook that will keep the reader glued to your script.

Use Vivid Adjectives

The primary goal of your writing is to provide your reader with a rich depiction of the subject. As we mentioned earlier, your text should focus on showing as opposed to telling. Therefore, you should use evocative and metaphorical language, as well as concrete imagery to define the subject.

For instance, instead of saying;

"The apartment was old," you can say, "The house was merely a decaying heap, bowing down, submissive to the blustery weather…"

Use Figurative Language

Using metaphors and similes in your expository essay allows you to demonstrate your sentiments to the reader instead of merely telling them how you feel about the subject. For instance, instead of writing, "She worked hard to fend for us," you can include a metaphor like, "She is a workhorse, I can't recall her ever taking a vacation."

You can also use similes for comparison. For instance, you may write, "Mother protected us with the tenacity of a lioness in the savannah."

Discuss your Emotions

We pointed out earlier that adding an emotional component to your story can make it more captivating to an empathetic audience. As such, you shouldn't shy away from using the first person (I) to express your feelings about the subject. Are you sad, angry, happy, or disgusted with the item of discussion? Besides, what is your emotional response?

Wrap- Up with a Solid Conclusion

Use your concluding paragraph to piece together all the thoughts in your composition. You should also restate your thesis and close it with a strong statement. Ultimately, your conclusion should recap your main points, and should not contain any new information.

Here's an example of a final statement. "In all my mother's sacrifice, her strength, bravery, and fierce love for us are evident, qualities I desire to follow in my life."

Step Three: Polishing-up the Essay

At this point in your writing, you want to fine-tune your content to make it reader-ready. As such, this is the time to proofread your text as you rectify the mechanical and grammatical errors. You should also take this opportunity to enhance your delivery style and improve clarity. Reading your copy out loud or having a friend go through it is an excellent way to catch minor errors.

Finally, once your descriptive essay is free of error, you should format the paper according to your instructor's requirements. MLA formatting usually works best for such pieces, especially if you study in the US. If you aren't quite conversant with the various formatting styles or need help with proofreading, our custom essay writing experts are always happy to offer a lending hand.

Descriptive Essay Topics and Ideas

Wondering what to describe? We've noted down some descriptive essay topics that you can consider.


Your descriptive essay about a person can feature anyone you know quite well. Relatives, close friends, or mentors can make for an excellent subject as you have plenty of material to write. Alternatively, you may opt to test your creative writing skills and write about a fictional character.


You can also write a descriptive essay about a place. This location could be anywhere with which you have a unique connection. For instance, you can write about your school, the city in which you were raised, somewhere you visited on vacation, or even a figment of your imagination. The bottom line when writing such an essay is to appeal to the reader's senses by showing them how the place looks, sounds, or makes you feel.


How about writing a descriptive essay about an emotion? For example, you can write about loss, rage, happiness, anger, or desire, to name a few feelings. You can narrate an individual encounter where you felt such emotion.

The emotion doesn't have to be a person; an observation will serve the purpose as well. As such, you can base your subject on maternal love or even that on-top-of the-world feeling.

The bottom line is that you can write a descriptive essay about anything, as long as you can describe it using the five human senses.

Creating A Descriptive Essay Outline

Unless you want to end up with a messy and rambling descriptive essay about a place or person, learning to outline your ideas is critical. A paper outline is your first-class ticket to a well-structured essay as it helps you to consolidate your thoughts and also improves your essay's flow.

A descriptive essay usually consists of the following aspects;

  • An introduction
  • A body
  • A conclusion

Introduction Paragraph

The primary purpose of this paragraph is to introduce your reader to the subject and give them sufficient background to comprehend your essay in full. Still, you should keep it short and captivating.

A descriptive essay and any other college paper for that matter should feature the following aspects in its introductory paragraph.

Hook Statement

Your entire descriptive essay should be captivating and filled with vivid expositions. More importantly, you must catch your reader's attention from the word go, using a well-crafted hook.

Background Information

What is it that you're about to recount? Provide the person reading your essay with some context information by explaining to them what you're about to describe, and why it matters to you.

Thesis Statement

Are you knowledgeable on how to craft a persuasive thesis statement? If not, we've got a wealth of resources on which you can capitalize, as it is a crucial aspect of your academic writing. Your descriptive essay thesis statement embodies the essay's central theme. Also, it serves a steering wheel for your writing and tells whoever is reading what to expect.

Body Paragraphs

The body makes up a significant part of your essay. This section is where you should outline all your discussion points. Typically, an essay body comprises three paragraphs. Each paragraph usually conveys a single idea and should support your thesis statement.

Contrary to the norm, sometimes a descriptive essay may have as many body paragraphs as you deem fit to tell your story.

How to Write a Body Paragraph for a Descriptive Essay?

  1. Use a topic sentence at the beginning of each section. A topic sentence helps to introduce the paragraph's main idea. The subsequent description should expound on the topic sentence.
  2. Structure your paragraphs appropriately. We can't overemphasize how crucial organizing your essay is to receiving merit in descriptive essay writing. To that end, you must ensure that each subsection communicates a single idea. Additionally, your various body sections should be more or less the same length. As a rule of thumb, your paragraphs should not exceed six sentences.
  3. Conclude each paragraph by introducing the next. Linking your sections together ensure that whoever is reading flows smoothly from one idea to the next. Use transition words to connect ideas and establish a smooth changeover from one concept to another.
  4. Pack every section with sufficient information. Do not forget to use descriptive words and sensory details to appeal to your audience's related senses.

Conclusion Paragraph

Writing a great descriptive essay conclusion is a critical determinant of the grade you'll receive. Given that it is the last thing that remains on the reader's mind, it is your final opportunity to make a lasting impression.

That said, the first thing you do is alert your reader that the essay is nearing its end. Phrases such as, 'in conclusion,' 'finally,' and 'to end with,' are a perfect way to suggest ending.

Most importantly, you must restate the thesis statement in this section as a reminder of the essay's central theme. Subsequently, you should briefly recap your essay's main points in support of your descriptive essay thesis.

Finally, you should include a parting short or a clincher statement which will reinforce the overall purpose of your essay, or leave your reader with an intriguing thought. After all, you don't want your readers to forget what they just read!

Why You Need a Descriptive Essay Example

Do you want to advance your descriptive writing techniques? If that's the case, then descriptive essay examples can be an invaluable resource. What's more, as a scholar and writer, reading descriptive essay samples written by other authors can expose you to various styles and ideas, improving your craft over time.

If you want to check out some descriptive essay examples, you need not look any further! We've compiled some of the best descriptive essays from our custom writing experts to help you out!

Need Help Writing a Descriptive Essay?

Writing a descriptive essay has never been easier, especially with the guidelines we've provided above. It is not only a captivating endeavor, but it also allows you to reflect on yourself. By following the tips outlined above, you'll find writing much easier, and your essay more captivating.

With that said, we can't overlook that writing school essays is a time-consuming endeavor, and also quite nerve-wracking. That's why we're here.

Do you need help to complete your descriptive essay? Order a customized college paper or a high school term paper from custom writing bee now. We guarantee high-quality, plagiarism-free essays on any topic. 

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